Women of Courage: Brené Brown

Brene Brown
Brene Brown

Brené Brown, Ambassador of Vulnerability

Dr. Brené Brown wrote the book on courage. Literally.

Actually, she’s written five of them, including four New York Times #1 bestsellers. Her latest, Braving the Wilderness, was just released this September. In addition to bestselling author, she’s also a public speaker, scholar, leadership guru, and research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work.


“The difficult thing is that vulnerability is the first thing I look for in you and the last thing I’m willing to show you. In you, it’s courage and daring. In me, it’s weakness.”Brené Brown’s journey into courage began while working as a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She set out to understand the anatomy of connection. After conducting hundreds of interviews with subjects from all walks of life, she uncovered the concept of wholeheartedness. This wholeheartedness was an essential talent in accepting oneself, and had a positive correlation with life satisfaction and healthy relationships. Her gift for storytelling has brought her groundbreaking work to millions. Key concepts which she explores include empathy, shame, vulnerability, and creativity.

How She’s Courageous

Ironically, Brené got into research as a means to avoid vulnerability—not that she would have admitted it at the time.

She set out to prove what she knew to be true. Instead, she found that wholeheartedness sprang from vulnerability, a trait she was fully opposed to expressing at the time. So, she did what any researcher does when they discover everything they believe is wrong:

She totally lost her shit.

With the help of a therapist and loving family and friends, she came back, armed with strategies for wholehearted living that the research backs up. To date she’s helped millions to live more fulfilling lives.

“I spent a lot of years trying to outrun or outsmart vulnerability by making things certain and definite, black and white, good and bad. My inability to lean into the discomfort of vulnerability limited the fullness of those important experiences that are wrought with uncertainty: Love, belonging, trust, joy, and creativity to name a few.”

Anyone who has ever tried to create lasting change–whether it’s losing ten pounds or quitting a bad habit–knows it’s never as easy as flipping a switch. Lasting change demands a deep look at who we are and what we truly value.

Wholehearted living is no exception. The practice demands continual self-evaluation, honesty, and a support system of friends and/or family that accept you for who you are.

Brené walks the walk—living as she inspires others to live. Humble and hilarious, she’s the first to admit her teachings can be tough to follow, and freely admits to stumbling. Her efforts are continuous and evolving and she shares these struggles openly in her books and speeches.

How Her Courage Affects Others

Brené Brown has won fans including powerhouse Oprah Winfrey, author Elizabeth Gilbert, and even her own idol, the late Maya Angelou. Her TED Talk on Vulnerability has had over 30 million views.

When Brené Brown started her research on connection, she had no idea that she’d begun a journey that would change everything, including her own way of life. Nor did she have any idea how many lives she would change in the process. Her work on shame and vulnerability has had a positive impact on leaders, creatives, and anyone seeking a more fulfilling life.

How She’s Affected Me

I first came across Brené in the form a video: Brené Brown: Why Your Critics Aren’t The Ones Who Count. If I remember right, it was my partner in Braving who brought her to my attention (thanks Michelle!). As a creative who tends toward pathological shyness, the video reached me on a deep level and I became an instant fan. Since then, her audiobooks have landed a permanent spot on my playlist and I’ve got her TED Talks on speed dial for low days.

You can learn more about Brené Brown below.

This has been the first of my articles on Women of Courage. Check back every Sunday at 3:00 pm CDT for new articles celebrating real and fictional heroines to inspire you.

Originally published on KarenLeeRawson.com

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